Saudi Arabia’s highest Muslim authority recommends prayer at home

Faith Grigory Matyunin 20-Apr-2020
ID 11450160 © Daniel Korzeniewski | Dreamstime.com

The Council of Senior Scholars, Saudi Arabia’s highest Muslim authority has asked Muslims throughout the world  to heed their countries’ advice concerning social distancing and pray at home during Ramadan if required.

“Muslims shall avoid gatherings, because they are the main cause of the spread of infection…and shall remember that preserving the lives of people is a great act that brings them closer to God,” it said in a statement cited by Reuters. A similar statement was made by the Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Sheikh.

The kingdom has closed off access to holy sites at Mecca and Medina, a step that did not even take place amid the Spanish flu epidemic in 1918. Worshippers have been advised to put off booking travels for the Hajj pilgrimage.

Other states in the region have also taken steps to curtail of the virus. The United Arab Emirates has announced that no mass iftars will take place during Ramadan. Egypt, meanwhile, has imposed restrictions on all public religious gatherings including itikafs.

Some influential religious scholars, including senior figures in Pakistan, have threatened to defy lockdowns imposed by secular authorities and reopen mosques.